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UK Exports Earth Observation Satellite to Nigeria to improve African Resource Management

British satellite specialists Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) today signed a contract in Abuja for the supply of the NIGERIASAT-2 Earth observation satellite, related ground infrastructure and a training programme to further develop an indigenous space capability in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The selection of SSTL by the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) of Nigeria follows a detailed technical evaluation and due diligence undertaken by NASRDA’s procurement advisor, Telesat of Canada, confirming the UK company’s position as the world-leading supplier of advanced small satellites.

SSTL will develop the 300kg NIGERIASAT-2 satellite for launch in 2009, based upon its new generation of high resolution Earth observation satellites and taking full advantage of the latest advanced small satellite technologies developed from the recent and highly successful TOPSAT and Beijing-1 missions. NIGERIASAT-2 will carry two payloads: (1) SSTL’s latest-generation high-resolution imager providing 2.5-metre panchromatic and 5-metre 4 band multispectral data with a swath of 20 km and (2) a 32-metre resolution multispectral imager providing data in 4 spectral bands with a wide swath of 300 km.

The contract with SSTL also covers the supply of the ground system and image processing software to allow operation of the satellite and generation of mission products from NASRDA’s new facilities in Abuja. Following commissioning after launch, NIGERIASAT-2 will deliver 100 to 400 geo-processed images per day, depending on the advanced operational mode over its 7-year mission lifetime.

The associated Know-How Transfer and Training (KHTT) programme will build upon the programme delivered by SSTL through the NIGERIASAT-1 programme that ran from 2001 to 2003. The KHTT has both theoretical and detailed ‘on-the-job’ training for 25 Nigerian engineers at SSTL’s new state-of-the-art facilities in Guildford, UK. As part of the contract, NASRDA engineers will also build their own advanced flight-standard training model. An initial part of the KHTT programme, including an MSc programme at the University of Surrey, is already well underway following its commencement in August 2006.

NIGERIASAT-2 will provide Nigeria with continuity of NIGERIASAT-1 data and will continue to contribute fully to the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC), a unique multi-national coordinated constellation of satellites led by SSTL. The contract with NASRDA follows “hot on the heels” of the signature by Deimos (Spain) on 10th October 2006 on a contract with SSTL for an EO microsatellite to join the next generation of the international DMC constellation.

The DMC owes its success to a unique concept created and led by SSTL whereby each member of the DMC consortium (Algeria, China, Nigeria, Spain, Turkey, UK) owns and operates its own satellite, whilst co-operating with the other DMC members on satellite tasking and image capture to achieve a 24-hour revisit worldwide. The DMC satellites have been manufactured by SSTL and their operation in orbit is coordinated by DMC International Imaging Ltd (DMCii), a subsidiary of SSTL.

The NIGERIASAT-2 contract adds to an already successful year for SSTL and is expected to create up to 50 new jobs in the UK. Alongside the recent contract with Deimos (Spain) and the successful launches of TOPSAT, Beijing-1 and GIOVE-A missions at the end of 2005, this contract further illustrates SSTL’s ability to manage multiple complex space missions successfully, at low cost and within short delivery timescales.

Following contract signature, SSTL’s CEO Sir Martin Sweeting noted “I am delighted that NASRDA has decided to continue its successful partnership with SSTL on such a critical operational and training programme for Nigeria. Nigeria is a very valued member of the DMC and its continued cooperation with SSTL and DMCii ensures the operational status of the international DMC is extended even further. NASRDA’s decision also confirms SSTL as the world-leading supplier of operational small satellites.”

By signing this contract with SSTL, Nigeria takes another large step in the development of their National Space Plan, building upon the existing NIGERIASAT-1 Earth Observation microsatellite supplied by SSTL in 2003 and the NIGCOMSAT-1 communications satellite currently being built by China for launch in 2008.

Commenting on the contract, NASRDA’s Director General, Professor Robert Boroffice, stated “this contract is the next step in Nigeria’s long term plans to use Space for the benefit of Nigeria and Africa. We are convinced that Space provides a cost-effective means of addressing many of the issues facing African nations such as mapping, water resources management, agricultural land use monitoring, population estimation, health hazard monitoring and disaster mitigation and management”.

Robin Wolstenholme | alfa
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